For more than ten years I've talked about records, record labels, record producers, rare 45 b-sides and comedians with my dear friend Alan who knows more about records and record history than anyone I know, and it's not even close. When we see each other, we usually go right into an old Carlin routine, or a Lenny Bruce sketch, or Bugs Bunny riff. Alan was the first guy I thought of this morning. When he got into work and saw the red light on his phone, he knew who the message was from
I got the following e-mail from Alan this afternoon:
George Carlin records were the comedy soundtrack of my childhood. I heard "AM/FM" and "Class Clown" when I about 9 years old. First to laugh hysterically at them, then to memorize them, then to imitate every single vocal inflection contained on them ("Hey, who's wearing chicken vegetable", "Not me, I have bean with bacon"). I learned about language, culture, and humor from absorbing these records (and soon many more). Thank you, George.
I love comedy records.
Pretty much any records that have made me laugh or still make me laugh, are things I listen to more than anything else these days. This feeling is not limited to stand-up comedy records, but I'll be brief.
These are the records that have cracked me tup more than any others.
Lenny Bruce - "Let The Buyer Beware" (audiobook), "The Carnegie Hall Concert" and "Thank You, Masked Man".
George Carlin - "AM/FM", "Class Clown",and "Occupation: Foole"
Richard Pryor - "That Nigger's Crazy", "Is It Something I Said"
Franklyn Ajaye - "Don't Smoke Dope, Fry Your Hair"
Bill Cosby - "Wonderfulness"
Steve Martin - "Let's Get Small"
Lewis Black - "The Carnegie Hall Concert"
Patton Oswalt - "Werewolves and Lollipops"
A top-ten stand-up list?
Let's break it down this way
1. Lenny Bruce
2/3. George Carlin / Richard Pryor (you decide, I can't)
4. Jonathan Winters (didn't make great records, but no one is funnier to watch)
5. Bill Cosby
6. Rodney Dangerfield
7. Alan King
8. Jackie Mason (more for the one man shows in the 80's & 90's than for his eary stuff)
9. Moms Mabely
10. Charlie Callas (along with Winters, very few could get a laugh just by showing up)
4. Lewis Black
5. Patton Oswalt
6. Chris Rock
7. Bernie Mac
8. David Cross
9. Ron White
10. Eddie Izzard
I'd throw in "A Star is Bought," by Albert Brooks as one of my favorite comedy albums, along with "Wild and Crazy Guy," (Steve Martin), "The 2013 Year Old Man" (Brooks and Reiner) and the double lp of Woody Allen's stand up years. Oh, and maybe Eddie Murphy's debut too. But not before I added "Live in Concert," the double Richard Pryor lp. Oh, there are lots more. Nichols and May, Robin Williams, the National Lampoon stuff, the old Peter Sellers records...The Bob and Doug record used to crack me up.
Here's a question. Who are the funniest comics to have never made a great album? Mort Sahl and Jonathan Winters, who some people claim is the funniest man on the face of the earth, spring to mind. I never cared for Lily Tomlin's records either. Whatta ya got?